SHAMAN: What's in a "title"?
Last week I enjoyed the opportunity to introduce myself to someone using "anything but the woo-woo words" to describe myself and what I do. I was meeting a family member of someone close to me for the first time, and was forewarned that this family member would be most receptive to meeting me and warming to my character if I did not use "Spiritual language" to describe myself. In short, the phrase, "I'm a Shaman!" was off the table.
When asked, "what do you do?" by this family member, I described the functional, tangible aspects of my work. "I support humans and animals in their journey to natural health and wellness. I work with animal health and behavior, and on the human side, I help people connect with their joy, love and purpose. I mentor people through challenging periods of their lives and help them work their way to the other side feeling more empowered, confident and connected." This person nodded approvingly and the conversation moved on.
Fast forward to today, in continuing with the theme, when someone online asked me, "What do you do as a Shaman?"
Again, I thoroughly enjoyed considering the functional implications of the term. What does a Shaman "do?"
Here is what I wrote back:
"I'm kind of laughing at my internal response to your question, which was "What DON'T I do as a Shaman?" I know that's not how you meant the question, but I try each day to live the idea of "my every breath and action is a practice in devotion to All That Is." So, essentially, I do everything as a Shaman, from washing the dishes and dancing to my healing work and more!
In other senses of the question, I practice the philosophy of "A Shaman devotes herself to the health and well-being of her Tribe." In my case, my Tribe is my global community. I work with humans and animals all over the world (though much of my client base is local) to help them discover and express their greatest joy, their fiercest love and their deepest purpose. I teach empowerment, mentor personal investigation and shepherd people through the underworld as they experience their own dark nights of the soul.
Functionally, I also work with supporting natural health and wellness (for humans and animals), teach Reiki and other healing practices (to humans), translate between species (animal communication) and channel Spirit (usually for humans).
Does that answer your question?"
Being a Shaman means different things to different people. The term gets thrown around a lot, and it's often loaded with some kind of judgment and/or misunderstanding. It took me YEARS before I was able to "put on the mantle" of claiming my medicine and publicly call myself a Shaman.
Now that I've journeyed through the process of fearing the label, unfolding the layers of the label, coming into my own understanding of the label, claiming the label and living the label, I'm finding that the label matters less and less. Shaman isn't what I DO, it's who I AM and how I live each moment of my life.
When my every breath is a prayer for the Highest and Greatest Good of All That Is, when I practice presence and peace in the face of every challenge, when I accompany people into the depths of their darkest fears so that they may feel safe, when I surrender to Spirit and allow the Divine to flow through me in order to let someone feel loved and seen and held--THAT is what I do, with or without the label. Shaman or not.
To be fair, the word "Shaman" fits more easily on a business card. It can be a very loaded "title," but it is also only that--a title. How is someone living their life as a Shaman? How do they practice their devotion? What is their offering? How do they live their service? These are questions I love to ponder for myself and others in the world, whether or not they call themselves Shamans.
I offer my gratitude to all those who continue to inquire and create opportunities for me to ponder my work, my choices and my path! I gladly receive these moments of reflection and growing understanding.
Many blessings and much love from your friendly neighborhood Shaman!